My family moved to East Haven, Connecticut, the summer before I started 4th grade. Within easy walking distance of our house, there were three small lakes, or ponds. The closest was Pollywog Pond, which was approximately a mile into the woods behind our house. Pollywog Pond wasn’t much more than a puddle, good for mock naval battles with model ships we’d built or for catching pollywogs in the spring. If we pedaled our bikes a mile and a half down Bradley Street, then walked them down a short path through the woods, we’d be at Pirot Pond. Pirot Pond was our local fishing hole … it was only good for sunfish, bluegill and an occasional perch, but it was close and open to the public. Yes, things were different in 1955. Ten year old boys were tramping about in the woods by themselves and going off on boys-only fishing expeditions. Two miles down Bradley Street in the opposite direction from Pirot Pond was the YMCA’s Camp Hubinger, home of Grannis Lake which we called Lake Hubinger. By joining the YMCA’s Family Camp, we could swim in the lake … and fish for the large-mouthed bass that were plentiful.
In addition to providing growing boys with outdoor recreation, our local ponds had something else in common … lily pads. In fact, Pirot Pond was covered with them, leaving only a few openings for fishing. And where there are lily pads, there are usually water lilies. Now, you’d think that a ten year old boy wouldn’t notice such things but you’d be wrong. As a newcomer to the woods, I was fascinated by the flora and fauna … and I particularly liked flowers. Frequently, I’d pick a few lilies that were near shore and bring them home to my Mom. She’d float them in a bowl of water and they’d open with the sunrise and close with the sunset for several weeks.
Here in the L.A. Basin, water lilies are less common, but fortunately, one of the small lakes in our park has a few, as does the Fullerton Arboretum, providing subject matter for an occasional photo or painting.
Of course, if you love water lilies, then you have to appreciate the Master.